Critical Path for a Subset of Schedule

Brass Contributor


  Can critical path be seen for a subset of schedule instead of entire schedule ? 


I have a program schedule, which runs for over 3 years. The entire schedule is broken down into sizeable "Work Packages" and there are deliverables & milestones for every work package.  The future work packages are just place holders and the work packages which have their deliverables in the next 4 months are active work packages. There are multiple active work packages and they do not link to each other i.e. they are not dependent on one another.

Only for these active work packages, detailed tasks are identified and their dependencies are linked to the work package's deliverables & milestones etc. 

These active work packages are not linked to each other. 

Also, often these work package's has their 1st task to start on a particular date i.e. they have "Must start on" constraint and then the subsequent tasks are identified and linked to each other.  


Now I need to find the critical path for these individual work packages i.e. which of the tasks within the work package when delayed will delay the milestone of that particular work package. 


Critical path filtering & highlight feature works when the entire schedule is linked and these give the critical path for entire schedule. 

But how do I find the critical path for a subset of schedule i.e. in my case, critical path of the work package(s) ?  


One crude way is to copy paste a work package on another .mpp file, and use filter / highlight critical path feature.  Another way is to make each work package as a sub-project with independent .mpp file and have a master schedule linking all sub-projects. 

I don't want to do both of these due to level of complexities involved. 


So how do I find a critical path for a work package alone ? 

Any thoughts please ? 

3 Replies
NKumar2010 --

In Microsoft Project, there is no way to display a Critical Path for only a subset of tasks in a project. Sorry, but hope this helps.


Wow, that's sounds a whole lot like schedules I used to work with, near term active tasks and longer term planning packages. I believe there is a way to see the critical paths you want.


Our schedules had major milestones tied to phases of the overall plan. To get a view of the path to any particular milestone I set an earlier "finish-no-later-than" constraint on that milestone. That immediately set up negative slack on those tasks leading up to the milestone, hence a critical path to that milestone.


Give it a shot.


Similar to what John suggested, I set a deadline on the target task that is several years in the past. That forces the task onto the critical path and the task has a lot of negative slack. In fact, if you set the deadline far enough in the past, the task in question will have the greatest amount of negative slack of all the tasks. Now filter the 'Total Slack' column so you are only displaying tasks with that value. That's your critical path to your intermediate milestone. It is what some people call the 'first critical path'. If you want to see the 'second critical path', filter for the second largest amount of total slack, and so on for 3rd critical path. Don't forget to remove the deadline when you're done!


This was actually a question I was asked in an interview several years ago. Hope this helps. Good luck.